Mon | May 25, 2020

India hastily builds wall along slum ahead of Trump visit

Published:Tuesday | February 18, 2020 | 4:15 PM
A man rides past a wall painted with portraits of US President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of Trump's visit, in Ahmadabad, India, Tuesday, February 18, 2020. (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki)

AHMEDABAD, India (AP) — A 1,640-foot brick wall has been hastily erected in India’s Gujarat state ahead of a visit by United States President Donald Trump, with critics saying it was built to block the view of a slum area inhabited by more than 2,000 people.

“Since they are spending so much money on this wall, why not use that to improve our slum and provide better facilities for us,” said Keshi Saraniya, a resident. “Why are they hiding us poor people?”

Trump is visiting the city of Ahmedabad in Gujarat during a two-day trip to India next week to attend an event called “Namaste Trump,” which translates to “Greetings, Trump,” at a cricket stadium along the lines of a “Howdy Modi” rally attended by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Houston last September.

Trump is to drive along a road next to the slum and will be accompanied by Modi, who is from Gujarat.

News reports said the wall was originally planned to be 6-7 feet high but was reduced to four feet after it received widespread publicity.

Senior government official Bijal Patel said the wall was built “for security reasons” and not to conceal the slum.

“Apart from security reasons, the wall is also part of a beautification and cleanliness drive,” she said.

Several political leaders were quick to criticise the wall’s construction, questioning Modi’s development work in his own state.

Modi was chief minister of Gujarat for 12 years before becoming the country’s prime minister in May 2014.

Authorities on Monday also served eviction notices to 45 families living in another slum area near the cricket stadium.

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